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Letter to local papers on NHS

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 09:51
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The following letter has been published in at least one local paper and was sent to others. It is written by Hannah Basson, Treasurer of Stroud Against the Cuts. References for the points made follow the text.

 

Dear Sir,

Stroud has a history of supporting health services being publicly-owned and funded. This is the most economical and fair way to distribute services, yet this government keeps attacking the NHS.

Of promised funding, less than half is new money. Once maintenance backlog and PFI repayments (including very recent ones) are factored, the real terms increase is about 13% of what’s being offered. Costly tenders for contracts, enforced since 2012, and forced savings of £22 billion hurt even more. Are these privatised contracts any better? Locally Out of Hours, hospital pharmacies, buildings maintenance, smoking cessation clinics, and transport services suggest not.

We are told investment is being made to GP services but unprecedented numbers are leaving and surgeries are shutting. GPs are told to refer patients on earlier, yet being told to refer less. Admissions to nursing schools have reduced by 23% since the government stopped training bursaries, there have been 90% fewer job applications from EU nurses since the referendum and there are still 1000s of vacancies.

The government says that the NHS will remain ‘free at the point of use’, but this does not necessarily mean comprehensive, universal, or treatment according to need.

The national media publish stories of the cost of ‘health tourism’ (0.3% of NHS budget actually), yet seem at ease with a system that costs about 15% to simply fragment services in order to feed a growing private sector.

Our NHS costs less than most other comparable countries in the world and the Commonwealth Fund named it the most efficient. Seven years ago, it was at the top of the Commonwealth Fund league tables in most categories.

Think that we can’t afford the NHS? This is a fiction to divert your eyes from the truth, by a Health Secretary who co-authored a book that called for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system. He is ably abetted by colleagues, such as a Conservative policy advisor who advised that the NHS would “cease to exist” within five years of a Tory government.

Sincerely,

Hannah Basson

(Treasurer, Stroud Against the Cuts)

 

This letter was sent without references but should you wish to follow up claims made, a few links are pasted below:

 

"Stroud has a history of supporting health services being publicly-owned and funded"

 

"[public ownership and funding] is the most economical and fair way to distribute services" - read e.g. "At what cost? Paying the price for the market in the English NHS" (direct link to pdf)

 

"[Of funding promised by the Conservative government], less than half is new money. Once maintenance backlog and PFI repayments (including very recent ones) are factored, the real terms increase is about 13% of what’s being offered" - read e.g "NHS spending per person will be cut next year, minister confirm"

 

"Costly tenders for contracts, enforced since 2012" / "a system that costs about 15% to simply fragment services in order to feed a growing private sector" - read Caroline Molloy from Stroud's essential article "The billions of wasted NHS cash no-one wants to mention"

 

"forced savings of £22 billion" - read Caroline Molloy's "NHS cuts - are we in it together?"

 

"Are these privatised contracts any better? Locally Out of Hours, hospital pharmacies, buildings maintenance, smoking cessation clinics, and transport services suggest not" - read e.g. "Private health contractor comes under fire for "putting profit before service""

 

"We are told investment is being made to GP services but unprecedented numbers are leaving and surgeries are shutting." - read e.g "If general practice fails, the whole NHS fails"

 

"Admissions to nursing schools have reduced by 23% since the government stopped training bursaries"

 

"there have been 90% fewer job applications from EU nurses since the referendum and there are still 1000s of vacancies"

 

"The national media publish stories of the cost of ‘health tourism’ (0.3% of NHS budget actually)"

 

"Our NHS costs less than most other comparable countries in the world and the Commonwealth Fund named it the most efficient."

"Seven years ago, it was at the top of the Commonwealth Fund league tables in most categories."

 

"a Health Secretary who co-authored a book that called for the NHS to be replaced by an insurance system"

 

"a Conservative policy advisor who advised that the NHS would “cease to exist” within five years of a Tory government"

 

Answers to our NHS questions for 4th May County Council Elections

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 10:17
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Answers from parties contesting the May 4th 2017 Gloucestershire County Council elections. We will continue to publish answers received before the election - we encourage members of the public to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

We received answers from the Labour Group, from County Councillor Iain Dobie, GCC Liberal Democrat Group Spokesperson on Health on behalf of the Liberal Democrat Group, and from The Green Party. We have not received any response from either the Conservative Party or UKIP. The answers below are copied in their entirety as recieved. We have not included further information from The Green Party so as to keep the format consistent:

 

1. Do you support the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for NHS Gloucestershire and if (re-)elected what will you to support/improve/oppose its implementation?
 

Labour Group:

"The Labour Group does not support the STP and would look to review it at the earliest time. It is not democratic, and is not representative of how decisions should be made. The Tories have made this Plan in secret, and have purposely excluded Councillors from shaping it."

 

Liberal Democrat Group: 

"To date, the Gloucestershire STP lacks the detail needed to form a judgement on it. Whilst supporting the general principle of better integration of health and social care, we are concerned that in practice the STP may - after the May elections - reveal itself as a vehicle for "rationalisation" of services. For which read cuts, e.g. to maternity services at Cheltenham and Stroud hospitals."

 

Green Party:

"The Sustainability and Transformation Plan is a document of little substance, and nationally the Kings Fund has criticized their development due to their lack of funding, strategy, ambitious timeframes, and lack of consultation. Two glaring examples of issues with the STP in Gloucestershire are: firstly, it has been identified that there is a £100m hole in the plan, with no clarity as to where this money will come from. The fear is the money will come from the closure of hospitals and a reduction in beds, a situation, which, if done before there is greater community capacity, will create an even bigger crisis than we already have. Secondly, the plan mentions ‘radical self-care’ as a strategy for reducing people’s need to use health and social care services – but at the same time the Tory administration at Shire Hall have slashed the budget for public health. The Greens believe in a publicly owned NHS. It belongs to all of us. We built it. And we will oppose the further selling off of the NHS in Gloucestershire."


2) Do you believe the private sector (including Third Sector) has any role in services traditionally provided by the NHS or GP practices, or in loaning or providing capital?
If not, what will you do if (re-)elected to:
a) prevent further privatisation of services,
b) get non-emergency ambulances, community hospital pharmacies and Out of Hours services back into the NHS,
c) prevent the use of PFI in Gloucestershire's NHS?
 

Labour Group: 

"The private sector should have little to no role in the provision of healthcare in the UK. We have seen locally what has happened to services when they are contracted out to the private organisations. Labour would look at all available options to make sure that services are provided by the NHS. We will also fight against any more attempts to further privatise the NHS at a national or local level."

 

Liberal Democrat Group: 

"The Liberal Democrats believe there may be a subsidiary role for private or Third Sector providers, for example in enabling specialist minor surgery to be delivered more quickly and conveniently under NHS direction. Pharmacies, likewise, might provide more services. However we oppose any privatisations which may threaten the essential viability of a publicly funded and provided health service for all."

 

Green Party: 

"Whilst we believe that there is a role for voluntary organisations in health and social care, we are opposed to privatisation, and don’t believe the provision of public healthcare should result in private profits. Green Party policy is for healthcare and social care to be free at the point of use. We will support the return of privatised services to the council, and to the NHS. We are committed to transparency in all public contracts: and scrutiny of deals – to make sure they are in the public interest. We have seen the costs of PFI to public services and will oppose any proposal to use the PFI for construction procurement in the county."


3) Do you believe that health and social care in Gloucestershire have the funds they need? If (re-)elected, what will you do about funding of these services?
 

Labour Group: 

"Health and Social Care is in dire need of help. It has been savaged by the current Tory administration, with cuts close to £11m this year alone. The Labour Group have a plan that would see the Council deliver home care services, create a joined up relationship with the NHS and provide outstanding care to every resident. We would also fight for a proper funding formula to make sure that health and care services were protected."

 

Liberal Democrat Group: 

"The Liberal Democrats have campaigned, both nationally and here in Gloucestershire, against Conservative cuts to health and social care. Not only do we as a party propose an increase in funding for both, but we have also proposed - in a motion passed at the last County Council meeting - that there should be a major, national, cross-party, commission to agree a long-term and sustainable solution to the issue of funding for both. "

 

Green Party: 

"Health and Social Care are badly underfunded. As a full-time carer said, “it feels like the drawbridge has been pulled up when it comes to accessing services”. We need better scrutiny of contracts, which the Greens will bring through the open contracting motion. We will put pressure on central government for more money, not just roll over as the Tories are doing. Underfunding health and social care is a false economy – as a society we will always have to pay for it elsewhere. For example, poor social care funding makes for delayed transfer of care, or queues and long waiting times at A&E. There are choices which can be made by the County Council, and the Greens will fund social care instead of white elephant projects such as the incinerator."


4) Where integration of NHS and Social Care provision is proposed, will you work to:
a) ensure any service previously provided to all remains so and that
there is no extension of means-testing,
b) oppose any homogenisation of staff employment that reduces terms
and conditions?


Labour Group: 

"Means testing has limited use and should not be a default position. The
Labour Group would also commit the County Council to signing up to the Ethical Care Charter, which would not only protect front line services but also boost terms, conditions, and pay for the thousands of healthcare workers.

 

Liberal Democrat Group:

"Yes."

 

Green Party: 

"The integration of health and social care should be an opportunity to deliver better services: not a cover for cuts. We will make the case for investment in long-term change, not short-term fixes that cost more in the long-run.

We will oppose changes that undermine the security and conditions of the social care and healthcare workforce – as supporting staff is essential to making sure good care can be delivered."

 

 

5) Will you work with NHS campaigners in Gloucestershire to prevent closures or privatisation of services traditionally provided by the NHS or GP practices and to oppose cuts and changes that will have negative impacts on patients?

 

Labour Group:

"The Labour Group have a strong record of fighting and standing up for
the NHS across Gloucestershire, and we see no reason why that would change."

 

Liberal Democrat Group: 

"We oppose cuts and privatisations which will have negative effects on patients and will work with those campaigners who think likewise."

 

Green Party:

"We will continue to campaign with local residents to prevent cuts to health and social care: and to make sure everyone has access to care and support when they need it."

Last Updated on Friday, 28 April 2017 16:21
 

Our questions for candidates in the 2017 Gloucestershire County Council elections

Friday, 14 April 2017 16:01
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On Thursday 4th May 2017, there will be elections in Gloucestershire for County Councillors. There are 53 places on the council where elections are being contested. You can find out who is standing for Gloucestershire County Council where you live on the council's website.


While Stroud Against the Cuts could ask many questions of councillors, we have chosen to focus on one of our core areas of campaigning: the NHS (and Social Care).

We are sending the following questions to all candidates and will publicise the results on this website.

In the meantime, you may like to ask candidates who appear at your doorstep or put leaflets through your door these questions. If you receive answers in writing, please send them on to us via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


  1. Do you support the Sustainability and Transformation Plan for NHS Gloucestershire and if (re-)elected what will you to support/improve/oppose its implementation? 
  2. Do you believe the private sector (including Third Sector) has any role in services traditionally provided by the NHS or GP practices, or in loaning or providing capital? If not, what will you do if (re-)elected to: a) prevent further privatisation of services, b) get non-emergency ambulances, community hospital pharmacies and Out of Hours services back into the NHS, c) prevent the use of PFI in Gloucestershire's NHS?
  3. Do you believe that health and social care in Gloucestershire have the funds they need? If (re-)elected, what will you do about funding of these services?
  4. Where integration of NHS and Social Care provision is proposed, will you work to: a) ensure any service previously provided to all remains so and that there is no extension of means-testing, b) oppose any homogenisation of staff employment that reduces terms and conditions?
  5. Will you work with NHS campaigners in Gloucestershire to prevent closures or privatisation of services traditionally provided by the NHS or GP practices, and to oppose cuts and changes that will have negative impacts on patients?
Last Updated on Friday, 14 April 2017 17:19
 

Campaigners and Councillors raise concerns over plans for Gloucestershire’s NHS

Monday, 27 March 2017 15:51
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Campaigners and Councillors raise concerns over plans for Gloucestershire’s NHS - PRESS RELEASE

Contact: James Beecher 07734 058789 - photographs available on request

 

On Wednesday 22nd March, campaigners from Stroud Against the Cuts[i] handed 775 signed postcards over to Gloucestershire County Councillors. The postcards – which call on councillors to “speak out against the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) as councillors have done elsewhere” – were collected by the group at its week-long campaign hub and exhibition on Stroud High St in February.[ii]


Councillors from the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats the Green Party’s Councillor Sarah Lunnon raised their concerns about the STP, and Ms Lunnon - who was attending her final Full Council Meeting before she steps down in May – formally delivered the stack of 775 postcards to Gloucestershire County Council Leader Mark Hawthorne (Conservative, Quedgeley).

 

The 775 postcards were signed by individuals who say they are “deeply concerned” about the £226 million of savings in the plan. Campaigners also raise questions over “a £100m million hole in the capital budget”, saying “The only answers as to how this hole will be filled are hints that the county’s hospital assets will be sold off, or handed over to ‘third party developers’/PFI.”

 

The number of signed postcards collected in an empty shop in Stroud in one week (775) is higher than the number of responses to Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s formal questionnaire for the public, which formed part of its three-month, county-wide  “engagement campaign” (638).[iii] Stroud Against the Cuts members said the questionnaire was confusing, and that the issues of cuts, potential closures and possible privatisation of services were not communicated.

 

James Beecher, spokesperson for Stroud Against the Cuts, said: “We don’t know what the feedback to the formal consultation process on the STP looks like yet, but 638 responses to the 6,250 guides the CCG sent out can’t be considered to demonstrate public support for the plans. By contrast, in just a week we were able to collect 775 postcards from deeply concerned people. If we’d collected for longer, or had any budget to collect responses, we know we could have collected signatures from many more than 775 people who do not believe services in Gloucestershire can sustain a further £226 million of cuts, and who are worried about further privatisation of NHS services.

 

Christine Stockwell of Stroud Against the Cuts added: “In our view the poor response to the consultation reflects the lack of detail in the STP which made it very difficult for people to make meaningful responses because they have not been provided with the detail of changes to services, how they would be reconfigured, whether they would be rationed or cut. The STP was couched in jargon which most members of the public would be unfamiliar with, and it did not give specifics or examples to illustrate what was meant.  There was no reasonable basis for public to properly assess the proposals. For a plan that could change the shape of our local NHS so dramatically, this is not good enough.”

 

Cllr Lesley Williams (Labour, Stonehouse) said: “I am thoroughly concerned about what the STP means for the NHS in Gloucestershire. We are already seeing the effects of seven years of austerity measures, and I am worried about what could happen to all our local NHS services.  Councilors have been kept in the dark, as have residents, over the STP, but we will not stop until we know what it means for all of us."

 

Cllr Sarah Lunnon (Green, Stroud Central) noted that the UK spends less on healthcare than many other European countries. She continued "rather than looking at ways to reduce even further the amount spent per head via the STP, investing in un-proven IT and reducing local community service, Government, both local and national needs to address the growing issues of social care and life style diseases - so we remain health and are safe and protected when we need help". Cllr Lunnon added "The STP is a cloak for hospital closures and service cuts and it is unfortunate that the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council has endorsed this strategy with what appears to be a £100M funding gap - unless of course he knows something which Councillors don't".

 

Joe Harris (Liberal Democrat, Cirencester Park) said: "I'm growing increasingly concerned that the STPs will mean cuts to local NHS services such as our community hospitals, we've already seen Cirencester and Stroud Hospital's overnight Minor Injury Units closed. STPs should protect and enhance local services as the NHS adapts to deal with an ageing population."

 


[i] Stroud Against the Cuts is a community group started in November 2010. In 2011-12 it led a successful campaign to prevent community health services in Gloucestershire being handed to a so-called ‘social enterprise’ outside the NHS. For more information: www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk

[iii] Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group shared the following recently: “In order to raise public awareness about Gloucestershire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), activity so far has included:

  • 6,250 STP short guides have been distributed across the county
  • social media stories about STP themes have reached 15,306 people
  • there have been 10,749 hits on the STP website


There has also been a 3 month engagement campaign which concluded last Saturday: this included the following:

  • there were more than 50 drop-in events / information sessions across the county, giving 1,224 members of the public the opportunity to air their thoughts about the STP
  • 638 people completed the STP questionnaire
  • social media activity regarding the engagement activity reached 44,146 people

the feedback is currently being analysed with details to follow”

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 27 March 2017 15:54
 

Letter to local papers re: NHS exhibition and Gloucestershire STP

Monday, 20 March 2017 10:43
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The letter below was published in the Stroud News & Journal as "Reader's Letter: ‘Thanks for coming to hub’":


We would like to express our thanks to everyone who attended our NHS exhibition and campaign hub on Stroud High St from February 4th-11th. We wanted to raise awareness about the Gloucestershire NHS five-year “Sustainability and Transformation Plan”, which claims that – through partnership between the County Council and local health bosses in the Clinical Commissioning Group - a plan has been made to provide more joined up care to meet people’s needs more effectively despite huge funding pressures. SATC believes that cuts to services and sell offs are being hidden as the plan demands £226 million of savings and there is a £100 million hole in the capital budget, the local share of a national £22 billion gap in funding provided and the estimated requirement.

 

Our “Hands Off our NHS” postcard asks all County Councillors to robustly defend Gloucestershire NHS services against further loss of hospital beds and services by opposing the local plan and the government’s underfunding of the NHS and social care. The plans are a fantasy wish list, heavily dependent on the NHS spending large sums on IT, with no guarantees about the future of our hospitals, and with no evidence to back them up. Although the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council is a signatory to the plan, financial and other details have not been made available to the public or even to our elected representatives. We fear that information is being withheld because of the County Council elections which are happening in May - not having the detail is a significant restraint on the democratic process.

 

Health Campaigns Together – joint organisers of the national protest in London this Saturday, believe that “by trying to engage local authorities into signing off  STPs, NHS England has for the first time opened up the possibility of forcing some accountability” (through our elected councillors). We urge our County Councillors to speak out, and are encouraging our Gloucestershire politicians to follow the example of those in other areas who have successfully opposed their local STPs.

 

This government is making a political choice to underfund the NHS, to close and privatise services and to reduce our access to healthcare as the system becomes more like the disastrous one in America. We hope people will join us on the coach to London or at our stall on Kings St at 12 noon this Saturday to show their support for a publicly-funded, publicly-owned NHS providing comprehensive, universal care on the basis of need not ability to pay, and to demonstrate their opposition to this government’s policies.

 

Yours,

Caroline Molloy, Editor of ourNHS openDemocracy campaigning journalism website, and James Beecher, Chris Stockwell, Hannah Basson, Stroud Against the Cuts

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 20 March 2017 12:10
 


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